You and Jane are gym buddies and you chat frequently about the fallout from COVID-19. Everyone around the world is eagerly anticipating the development of a vaccine for the virus. Because you work for an airline and Jane works for AstraZeneca, one of the pharmaceutical companies presently developing a COVID-19 vaccine, you are both closer than most to the situation.
Jane tells you one day, while you’re both huffing and puffing on the treadmill, that she’s noticed how travel stocks tend to fluctuate significantly when AstraZeneca provides updates on its COVID-19 vaccine development. You realize that she is right and reflect on the 1,000 shares of Royal Caribbean (NYSE: RCL) cruise line stock you bought in 2010. You’ve watched its value plummet in the past few months, but it has started to recover thanks, it appears, in part due to AstraZeneca’s vaccine advancement. Jane is still worried the next time you see her at the gym because a trial participant recently developed a serious and unexplained side effect to the trial vaccine. Though it hasn’t yet been announced, she is positive that this will force AstraZeneca to halt, at least temporarily, its vaccine development process.
You don’t want to lose any more money in your Royal Caribbean stock so, later that morning when you get home from the gym, you initiate a sell order for your shares of RCL. As she predicted, the patient illness and temporary halt are announced by AstraZeneca two days later and RCL shares happen to lose 18% of their value. Did you commit illegal insider trading? Why or why not?